One of our goals at RBC (the publishers of Our Daily Bread) is to attach authority to no more or no less than the necessary implications of the Bible. I don’t find that easy to do. Seems so hard to avoid reading more into the Bible than out of it (by treating possible implications as absolute truths).
For instance, we’ve talked repeatedly in the past about what the Bible says about marriage. If you’ve followed our conversations you may have picked up that, for a number of reasons, I’m not convinced that God has given a husband authority to rule his wife. (Because I might be wrong about that, I’ll qualify it below).
One of the things I value so much about our conversations is that you help me test my thinking, even as I am then in turn accountable to my co-workers to “publish” and teach what together what we see as those necessary implications of the Bible.
With that disclaimer, my personal hunch is that all too often followers of Christ reinforce the curse (Gen 3:16) rather than reaching for the original ideal of a complementary oneness in which both husbands and wives use whatever they’ve been given for the good of one another and for the honor of God.
I also suspect that we may have read “authority to rule” into the head-body word picture of marriage where the stated emphasis is on a husband’s sacrifice and and a wife’s submission for the oneness and interdependence of the relationship. The only place I find marital “authority” clearly stated is in 1Cor 7:3-4. In this text Paul affirms the mutual authority husbands and wives have over one another.
But here’s where I want to be very careful. I acknowledge that it is possible that the head-body word picture does imply a certain kind of husband-authority to lead.
But if that’s the case, then it must involve a special responsibility and accountability. If a husband has been given authority over his wife it must involve a responsibility before God to use his physical and social strength for the protection and provision of his wife. Jesus did teach that to whom much (i.e. strength) is given, much shall be required. So in that sense, such authority would amount to the kind of servant-leadership that Jesus calls for in Luke 22:25-26. Here Jesus explains that in his kingdom those who rule are as those who serve.
If a husband has been given that kind of authority, then I believe we also need to say with certainty that,
It does not involve a husband’s entitlement to lord it over his wife.
It does not involve a husband’s right to enforce submission, obedience, or control.
So one more time (for those who you who have been around the track with me on this subject in the past) Do you agree that these are necessary implications? If not, help me/us. What am I missing?